Allen Park — The Lions will kick off the voluntary portion of the offseason today, when players report to the team’s practice facility for Phase One of the program. It will be the first time coach Matt Patricia, who was hired by the franchise in February, will meet many of his players face-to-face.
Football-specific drills will have to wait. Patricia and the coaching staff are prohibited from working with the players on the field during Phase One, but he’ll have the opportunity to get in front of the group for the first time and lay out his vision for the future.
“That’s probably something I think about a lot, and have for a long time,” Patricia said at last month’s league meetings. “I think it’s just kind of going to be who I am and what I think the team should be. I think it’s important for them to understand who I am as a person, and how I feel about this game, and how passionate I am about this game — how much I believe in the relationship part of this game. And this is family. So that hopefully all that will be conveyed through my conversation with them the first time I get a chance to talk to them.
“But also, I want them to understand what I’m looking for from a team when we turn on the film, making sure that we’re playing smart football, tough football, fundamentally sound football,” Patricia said. “Those are all very important things to me that you build on and you start from.”
One player who will not be in the building today is defensive end Ziggy Ansah. He’s remaining in his home country Ghana for a family obligation, according to a team source. He and his representation have been in regular communication with the organization’s leadership, including Patricia, making sure the team is familiar with his plans. Those talks, and the relationship between player and team, were characterized as positive by the source. The expectation is Ansah will be back with the Lions in the near future.
Detroit placed the franchise tag on Ansah this offseason and he has yet to sign the one-year contract that would pay him more than $17.14 million next year. The team has been given no indication he won’t sign later this offseason.
“I hope he does,” general manager Bob Quinn said at the league meetings. “He never gave us any inclination that he wasn’t going to when we talked to him.”